Top ways to work a room

An active approach to attending events can turn a dull evening into a zinging business opportunity.

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Be selective

Choose carefully – you could be out every night and end up with no more than sore feet. Focus on your target contacts and obtain the guest list if you can; if not, do your research with your host.

Dress appropriately

Get into the mindset that you are going to be seen and heard, so dress with care and add unique touches to your attire. Shoes speak volumes. At worst, they should be clean and in good order; at best, notable shoes make for a notable person. If designer brands are beyond the budget, an outstanding tie or accessory can make a statement.

Prepare your subjects

You are looking to make a good impression, so bone up on some hot topics – current affairs will suffice, or read up on the top racing drivers if attending a F1 Paddock Club event through an events company such as Even if the subject is out of your league, people like to help. Small talk is a perfectly acceptable way of extending a greeting, so make sure you have some fillers to hand.

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Who are you?

Introduce yourself with explanation so that people have context and know why you are attending. Make sure you have an ample supply of business cards easily accessible. A neat trick is to keep yours in your left pocket and those of new acquaintances in your right pocket.

On arrival

Declutter and start noting the layout, including the washroom facilities. The bar and hors d’oeuvres serving points are good places to target a new conversation. Do a 360 scan to see if you know anyone; if so, it may boost the confidence to know that you can talk to them at any time. Look for people on their own and breeze in with a welcoming, just-arrived smile. Aim to talk to as many people as possible across the broadest range. Move on and excuse yourself firmly if you find yourself cornered.

Follow up

Go through the stash of business cards – and the guest list if you managed to obtain one – and get in touch quickly. You can do your homework on them at your leisure and categorise them appropriately – some could even be worth a lunch!